Taking a Stand in the War on General-Purpose Computing

Imagine yourself sitting in a movie theater so dark you can’t see your hand in front of your face. You know a thirty-foot-high screen is before you, but you can’t see it. Your eyes are still adjusting to the darkness. Finally, you see the black vacuum of space, as if through a portal into another reality. Thousands of tiny points of starlight appear before you. Then, without warning, an almost painful sound erupts from the screen. The Star Wars theme blasts against your eardrums–so loudly that your back straightens reflexively. In giant News Gothic bold yellow letters, the following words appear and begin to scroll out of sight toward a distant point against the background of stars.

A war against general-purpose computing rages. On one side are the lords of technology: Google, Apple, Microsoft, their allies, and the unseen ones who control them. The lords of technology fight for money above all else, while their unseen masters fight for power. In a never ending quest to maximize their wealth and power, they are determined to control every computer in the known universe. Opposing them are the few who see the war clearly. The rebels fight to keep general-purpose computing alive. They fight for online privacy and free speech and the tools that make them possible. They fight for computers, operating systems, and software that can be used both on and off line, beyond the all-seeing eyes of the lords of technology and their masters. They fight for continued access to their computers’ file systems. They fight for control of the data on their hard drives. They fight for general-purpose hardware and programs like Handbrake and Kodi that give them the power to listen to music and watch movies that they already own, without having to buy them again and again from the likes of Apple and Amazon each time hardware standards, file formats, or delivery methods change. They fight for continued access to decentralized networks like ZeroNet, IPFS, and I2P, the last strongholds of free speech on the Internet.

Between the two opposing forces are the non-technical masses. These are the online serfs who are completely unaware and will never become aware that their freedom and their money is being stolen by their masters, the lords of technology, who they serve unwittingly with their data and monthly fees. These are the instant messaging and cat video addicts whose only concern is that computers be easy enough for toddlers to use. These are the techno-toddlers who refuse to grow up…

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